Jihadis from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) conducted mass killings in Tikrit, Iraq, executing at least 160 Iraqi men after seizing the city on June 11, 2014.
Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) current estimates state that between 160 and 190 men were slaughtered in at least two sites between June 11 to the 14th. HRW said that due to restricted access to the area, the number that was executed might be much higher than initial estimates.
On June 12, ISIS militants claimed they had killed 1,700 Shia Iraqi military fighters in Tikrit. Two days later, it posted pictures showing the supposedly executed men.
The HRW emergencies director said of the incident, “The photos and satellite images from Tikrit provide strong evidence of a horrible crime that needs further investigation. ISIS apparently executed at least 160 people in Tikrit. ISIS is committing mass murder, and advertising it as well,” he said. “They and other abusive forces should know that the eyes of Iraqis and the world is watching.”
The photographs and satellite images suggest ISIS used two separate trucks to transfer its POWs to the two separate killing locations.
HRW spoke with a man who claimed to be an eyewitness to the events that unfolded: “I saw them with my own eyes. It was late afternoon. It was a long line. I saw about 10 armed gunmen with their guns pointed at the line of men, walking them to military trucks. Some of the gunmen had masks and others showed their faces. The [captured] men were not handcuffed. They wore civilian clothes,” he said.
Murdering surrendered prisoners of war is considered a war crime under international law. Additionally, conducting mass executions as a standard operating procedure, as ISIS appears to have done, can be considered as a crime against humanity.